NEWARK, CA – September 22, 2020 – RMS®, the world’s leading catastrophe risk company estimates insured losses for the Western U.S. will be between US$4.0 and US$8.0 billion. These losses reflect estimates as of September 20, 2020, and further escalation in losses are likely as many fires are still ongoing in California, Oregon, and Washington.
RMS estimates insured losses from major wildfires in Northern California, Oregon, and Washington as follows (US$ billions):
Regions Insured Losses as of September 20, 2020
|Northern California||3.0 - 5.0|
|Oregon & Washington||1.0 - 3.0|
Wildfires in the Western U.S. have led to over four million acres burned so far (2.5 million in Northern California and over 1.5 million in Oregon and Washington) and over 13,500 structures damaged or destroyed as of September 20, 2020. Michael Young, Vice President, Product Management said: “While this season is exceptionally noteworthy on many fronts, I want to highlight a silver lining: 30 to 60 percent of structures in many of these mega complex footprints actually survived the fire. This is because building science has identified many factors that increase the survivability of structures such as wildfire-resistant vents. We need to find bold ways to duplicate those measures at scale. If this is the new normal, we can’t afford not to embrace effective steps towards mitigation.”
RMS estimates include losses from property damage, including evacuation and smoke damage, business interruption (BI) across residential, commercial, industrial lines, and additional living expenses (ALE). Smoke and evacuation are significant contributors to losses during the ongoing Western U.S. wildfires, contributing about 20 percent of losses in Northern California fires and about 35 percent in Oregon and Washington fires, respectively.
The RMS loss estimate is based on detailed modeling of fire spread, ember accumulations, and smoke dispersion of the fires utilizing the RMS U.S. Wildfire HD Model, part of the suite of RMS North America Wildfire High-Definition (HD) Models, released in February 2019. The model covers the contiguous U.S. and explicitly simulates ember and smoke to support detailed analysis of the impact of a wildfire beyond historical fire perimeters. The model’s findings were supported by Damage Inspection Specialist (DINS) damage surveys for California Fires, published damage reports for Oregon and Washington fires, and the RMS U.S. Wildfire Industry Exposure Database.
As many major fires are still active in these states, additional increases in loss are possible.
Learn more about the RMS North America Wildfire HD Model here.
The technology and data used in providing the information contained in this press release are based on the scientific data, mathematical and empirical models, and encoded experience of scientists and specialists. As with any model of physical systems, particularly those with low frequencies of occurrence and potentially high severity outcomes, the actual losses from catastrophic events may differ from the results of simulation analyses.
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